The second split of the Oceanic Pro League is only days away, with Legacy Esports looking to defend their maiden title, and teams like the Chiefs and Dire Wolves already on the hunt to knock them off their perch.
We’ve already seen how close the Oceanic Pro League can get, with seeding directly into last split’s grand final decided in the very last game. More than eighty games and a triple round robin season still ended in a frenetic, final-week scramble between three teams vying for one playoff spot, and three heavy hitters duking it out for first place.
OPL fans can expect much of the same in Split 2 as well, especially considering there’s been little in the way of roster swaps. The Chiefs, Legacy, and the Dire Wolves will all be grappling for first, while Pentanet.GG, Order, and more nip at their heels.
Let’s take a look at the key battles that may well define the season, and settle who rules the Oceanic roost, and who walks away with their tail between their legs.
The Chiefs vs Dire Wolves
- Week 3 — 7pm Saturday, June 20
- Week 7 — 6pm Friday, July 17
- Week 10 — 7pm Saturday, August 8
Plenty of OPL fans were surprised when the Dire Wolves knocked an in-form Chiefs outfit out of the playoffs, even though the Wolfpack had managed to pick up wins over the four-time champions multiple times in the regular season.
The stakes are higher for both teams this split. Long-time Dire Wolves coach Ben “Kai” Stewart has defected, joining the Chiefs under Chris “SeeEl” Lee. The first match between these two veteran teams is nearly guaranteed to be filled with action, with the Chiefs eager to avenge their playoff disappointment, while the Wolfpack will be out to show that this isn’t just a fluke and they are a top-two team in the region.
With Kai now coaching the Chiefs, this matchup means much more than it already did. Don’t be surprised if these two teams meet up again in the playoffs, but be sure that whenever these two teams go head-to-head on the Rift, there will be fireworks.
Day one back on the try hard coaching horse was a great success. My off season work with my practises, methods, manner and procedures is making it so easy for me to focus on the jobs I need to get done. Really happy with how Today’s test went!— Kai (@Esports_Kai) June 1, 2020
Dire Wolves vs Pentanet.GG
- Week 2 — 7pm Saturday, June 13
- Week 6 — 5pm Friday, July 10
- Week 9 — 5pm Saturday, August 1
The biggest news of the offseason was that top laner Jackson “Pabu” Pavone had swapped to the jungle, and was joining Pentanet.GG to replace rookie star Paris “Souli” Sitzoukis.
For that move to pay off for Pentanet, they have to set their sights on the best. There were high hopes for the roster coming into Split 1, but they failed to fire at times. Now with a veteran presence running the map, it could be enough to firmly entrench themselves in the playoff run, or even the OPL title the squad is quietly aiming for behind the scenes.
If the Dire Wolves want to lock in their contender status, a dominant win here is very needed. Pentanet.GG still have the potential we thought they had in Split 1, and a Dire Wolves win will more clearly delineate the gap between contenders and pretenders.
Avant Gaming vs Order
- Week 3 — 7pm Friday, June 19
- Week 6 — 7pm Saturday, July 11
- Week 10 — 8pm Friday, August 7
Speaking of pretenders, Order has been given enough chances. For multiple splits they have assembled so-called ‘super teams,’ but apart from a miracle run in Split 2 of last year, they’ve always faltered come playoffs, marking their record with a string of third and fourth placings.
If Order are going to be a serious contender, they’re going to have to see off Avant, their main playoffs rival. Avant narrowly made it into finals after escaping a tussle between themselves, Pentanet, and Gravitas in the final week of play. This was after top star Dragon “Dragku” Guo was hooked from the team in Super Week as well.
Now, with the return of Daniel “Papryze” Francis, their roster should be much more stable. Their success, however, may hinge on whether they can take the dive to play mechanically superior bot laner Violet over the team’s primary shotcaller Vincent “Gunkrab” Lin.
Either way, if Avant has playoff aspirations, creating chaos in Order’s playoff plans is how they need to start, continue, and end — they have three chances to leapfrog the Melbourne team throughout the split and move into a top four position come season’s end.
Mammoth vs Gravitas
- Week 4 — 6pm Friday, June 26
- Week 6 — 7pm Saturday, July 18
- Week 10 — 4pm, Saturday, August 8
Gravitas and Mammoth only won ten of their combined forty-two games in Split 1, with three of victories coming in their own fixtures against each other as well. It’s no surprise then, that we turn our eyes to them battling it out to avoid the ignominious OPL spoon.
While it was expected Mammoth would be rebuilding their roster after the entirety of their championship-winning lineup departed, they never made it above eighth after electing to start a bundle of rookies in 2020’s first split. Gravitas didn’t do much better either, rotating their ten-man roster and only escaping the bottom two for the briefest moment when Pabu joined the squad as part of a last-ditch effort to qualify for playoffs.
Surprise, surprise, we’ve got some big news! @LivedOCE will be playing Top Lane for Split 2. We believe he’s a perfect fit for top lane and should find success in his new role.— MAMMOTH (@MAMMOTH_OCE) May 11, 2020
But who will replace him in the mid lane? #tusksup pic.twitter.com/9VId4pYsqb
No team wants to come last two splits in a row, and the first clash between Mammoth and Gravitas in Week 4 could dictate this growing battle for the rest of the split. Questions will be answered regarding whether either side has managed to improve as well, or whether they are in pole position to claim a position in the 2020 Split 2 cellar.
Don’t miss the start of the Oceanic Pro League this Friday at 4pm AEST, starting off with the Chiefs vs. Pentanet.GG at watch.lolesports.com.